TV This Week: ‘Mad Men’ midseason finale; ‘The Normal Heart’; ‘Undateable’; ‘The Sixties’

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TV This Week: ‘Mad Men’ midseason finale; ‘The Normal Heart’; ‘Undateable’; ‘The Sixties’

Posted on: May 26th, 2014 by tommyj

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The week brings some new faces – John Malkovich as Blackbeard in the NBC summer series, "Crossbones" – and some familiar ones, as the summertime competition shows, "America’s Got Talent," "MasterChef," and "So You Think You Can Dance" return.

But the week’s highlights may be Sunday night’s midseason finale of "Mad Men," and Ryan Murphy’s HBO adaptation of "The Normal Heart," along with a new CNN documentary series, "The Sixties," which debuts Thursday night.

And Ron Funches, who was one of Portland’s best stand-up comics before he moved to Los Angeles, is a standout in the new NBC ensemble comedy, "Undateable," which also debuts Thursday. 


National Memorial Day Concert: Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise host the annual concert honoring America’s armed forces. Performers include Megan Hilty, Jackie Evancho, and the National Symphony Orchestra. (8 p.m. PBS/10)

"The Normal Heart": Larry Kramer’s play was a passionate, angry, grieving statement about the gay men who were dying in the 1980s as AIDS took a terrible toll while the government, as Kramer’s alter-ago, Ned Weeks sees it, failed to react. Ryan Murphy (co-creator of "Glee" and "American Horror Story") has made a TV-movie version both earnest and heartfelt. A fine cast brings the story to life, with strong performances by Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch, and more. (9 p.m. HBO)

"Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys": Of all this quality Sunday night programming is too much to process, here’s a TV-movie from the creators of "Sharknado." I think we all know what that means. Shannen Doherty and Christopher Lloyd star in a thriller about the icky, toothy lampreys getting into a small Michigan town’s sewer system. No one is safe! (9 p.m. Animal Planet)

"Mad Men": Season 7 stops for a long pause – we won’t see Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the rest again until spring 2015. (10 p.m. AMC)

More: My thoughts about the first half-season, as "Mad Men" prepares for a frustratingly long pause


"BBQ Pit Wars": A new series in which BBQ experts around the country compete head-to-head on the national BBQ circuit. (7 and again at 10 p.m. Destination America)

"MasterChef": A new season of the competition between home cooks begins, with judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Eliot back for more ominous close-ups and suspenseful music. In the debut, 30 home cooks prepare their trademark dish and serve to the judges. (8 p.m. Fox/12)

"Petals on the Wind": Follow-up to the TV-movie version of "Flowers in the Attic," this brings the siblings who were just a wee bit too close into young adulthood, and they’ve got a grudge – as well they might – against their relatives (Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham.) (9 p.m. Lifetime)


"I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’": Those quote marks are the tipoff – as if anybody really needed one – that the gals on this new dating show aren’t really going to be vying for the affections of the real Prince Harry. But they do get a trip to England to chase after a dude they think is Prince Harry. (8 p.m. Fox/12)

"America’s Got Talent": The title may be debatable, especially when the producers make us sit through hapless goofballs who audition despite their obvious lack of talent. But it’s the new season, so we all know what to expect. (8 p.m. NBC/8)


"So You Think You Can Dance": Season 11 kicks off with a two-hour premiere, bringing back host Cat Deeley and judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary "Lungs" Murphy. (8 p.m. Fox/12)

"One Night Only: An All-star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles": The celebs come out to pay their respects to "Mr. Warmth," and those on hand include Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman and Jon Stewart. (9 p.m. Spike)


"The Sixties": A new 10-part documentary series from executive producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman ("The Pacific," "John Adams"), this looks at the decade marked by war, upheaval and social chang. Tonight’s debut, "Television Comes of Age," looks at TV from 1960-1969, and the impact of such shows as "The Twilight Zone," "Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In," and "The Fugitive." (Premieres at 6 p.m., airs again at 7, 9 and 10 p.m., CNN)

"Undateable": New ensemble comedy from producer Bill Lawrence (whose credits include "Scrubs," Spin City" and "Cougar Town") about a bunch of Detroit guys whose pathetic love lives may improve when they make a new friend (Chris D’Elia) who’s got some game. Former Portland stand-up comedy standout Ron Funches plays Shelly, one of the fellas.

"Undateable" isn’t the most original comedy — and the laugh track is shriekingly distracting in the first episode — but you don’t have to be a Portlander to see that Funches’ timing and persona are something original. While his castmates are likable enough, and fire off their lines in professional fashion, Funches has his own dreamy, relaxed timing, making his every line funnier than it has any right to be. It’s anyone’s guess how long "Undateable" will be around, but this feels like just the beginning for the talented Funches. Two episodes air back-to-back. (9 p.m. NBC/8)


"Crossbones": John Malkovich comes to television to play the notorious pirate Blackbeard in a new series that takes the position that the famed plunderer has faked his death and is now headquartered on his own off-the-map island, in the year 1729. (10 p.m. NBC/8)


2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Guests including Bruce Springsteen, Lorde, Chris Martin, Stevie Nicks, Carrie Underwood, Kim Gordon, Michael Stipe, Bonnie Raitt, Art Garfunkel, St. Vincent and Joan Jett pay tribute to inductees Nirvana, the E Street Band, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, KISS, Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham. (8 p.m. HBO)

"The Color of Rain: Lacey Chabert ("Mean Girls") stars in a made-for-TV movie based on the real-life experience of a couple who both suffer the devastating loss of a spouse, but who find a new life together, with their blended family. (9 p.m. Hallmark Movie Channel)

"Sing Your Face Off": New series in which celebs perform as famous singers. So if you’ve been wanting to see Sebastian Bach perform as Lady Gaga, here’s your chance. (9 p.m. ABC/2)

— Kristi Turnquist

Do you have questions, rants or raves about what you’re watching? Join Kristi Turnquist for TV Talk Live, our weekly live chat here at, every Thursday at noon.

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